After the latest order confirmation at year's end, there are now 38 cruise ships under construction or on order ( or option) for deliveries through 2011, with 110,078 berths, representing an estimated building value of approximately $22.4 billion, or an average of $203,492 per berth.

Of the total, 22 ships are destined primarily for the North American market. They are expected to boost the annual North American cruise capacity by some 3.5 million passengers when they are all in service by 2011. 

Six-teen ships are destined primarily for the European markets, and they are expected to raise the annual cruise capacity there by more than two million passengers by 2010.

In addition, more ships are expected to be ordered for both the North American and European markets for 2011 deliveries and beyond.

Ship Update

Carnival Corporation announced earlier this month that it has signed a letter of intent with Fincantieri  for a new 116,000-ton, 3,076- passenger ship for P&O Cruises. To be built at an estimated all-in costs of $695 million, the new ship is scheduled for delivery in spring 2010.

In related news, before the end of last year, Carnival also exercised an option for another 130,000- ton, 3,652-passenger ship for Carnival Cruise Lines for delivery in summer 2010.

Meanwhile, Celebrity Cruises has named its third 118,000-ton, 2,850-passenger ship in its Solstice class, the Celebrity Eclipse.

With France being its second largest national market (after Italy), Costa Crociere will inaugurate the Costa Serena in Marseille in May. France produced 150,000 passengers for the brand in 2006, or 14 percent of its total passengers.

Costa carried a total of 880,000 passengers in 2006, compared to 870,000 in 2005. The line did not introduce new capacity in 2006, but raised its load factor two percentage points to 107 percent.

This year, Costa expects to break the one million passenger mark.

More ships

In addition, more ships are being built by niche operators, including a series of six SO-passenger sister ships for Grand Circle Corporation. The ships are being built in Croatia, at the Brodosplit Special Vessels Shipyard, for an estimated $10 million each. They will be marketed primarily in North America and will sail in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Adriatic. The service level will be four-star, according to Grand Circle which described the vessels as offering a "private small-ship" experience.

Pearl Seas Cruises, a sister company to American Cruises Line, is also moving ahead with the first of two newbuildings, to be built at Irving Shipyard in Halifax.

The first ship will carry 165 passengers, and the second, 210.

Passengers will be sourced primarily in North America, and the first ship is expected to enter service in July 2008, sailing in New England/Canada before moving to the Caribbean for the winter season. The second vessel is expected to enter service in June 2009, sailing in the British Isles and the Baltic during the summer.